According to Cornell Law School a taking is when the government seizes private property for public use. Public use is what the reason must be before government seizes someone’s property. Now if government does “take” property for “public” use it must follow the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution and provide “just compensation.” Just compensation is determined by a property’s fair market value. We know how quickly tax assessors go up on fair market value in determining property taxes. I wonder if that extends to taking a property by eminent domain.
The most egregious example of a taking through eminent domain is known as Kelo vs. City of New London, Connecticut. Through eminent domain condemnation New London took private homes and businesses from citizens to transfer land from one private owner to another private owner for economic development. The development deal with Pfizer a large pharmaceutical company finally fell through and now the property is an overgrown eyesore. People’s homes and businesses were taken and there was no “public benefit” and now a big loss in tax revenue to the City of New London. Can this happen in Cherokee County? Maybe it could.
Holly Springs just won the right to tear down old Barrett’s store. Even though the owners of the property were in the process to appeal Judge David Cannon’s ruling Holly Springs had the right to take the property. Before the appeal could be heard Holly Springs demolished the old building. Holly Springs could still lose the appeal and could be forced to rebuild the building, however unlikely it may be. It is still a possible liability to the taxpayers of Holly Springs, and if it happens Holly Springs will be using taxpayer funds to make things right.
If Holly Springs did this in order only to widen Hickory Road for public benefit to improve traffic flow then the taking of the property may be justified. Taking it to widen Hickory Road to develop a mixed-use town center with retail and residential components seriously clouds that decision. Add to that fact the owners were required to post a bond compensate the city for construction delays if they exercised their right to ask for a delay in tearing down the building makes this even more questionable. Is Holly Springs creating a Kelo vs. City of New London fiasco here in Cherokee County?
It is our duty as citizens to watch for bad government decisions and take action for change because the next property taken could be yours.